Cape Town is a city in South Africa’s coast that is known for its harbor and picturesque landmarks, such as Cape Point and Table Mountain.
This vibrant city is the most popular tourist destination in Africa, thanks to the Mediterranean climate, the cosmopolitan culture, and its charming natural setting.
Cape Town is literally sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
In addition to the incredible scenery, there’s a bounty of great wine and food in Cape Town with a unique and distinct flavor.
Here’s a list of the best day trips from Cape Town – the city of big skies, beautiful beaches and unending adventure.
1. Table Mountain
This landmark is found within the Table Mountain National Park and earns its name from its flat-topped shape.
One can reach the top either by foot or by taking a cable car.
These cars complete a 360° rotation to give a panoramic view over the mountain and the surrounding oceans.
For those who are adventurous enough to hike up the mountains, it’s recommended that you hire a guide who’ll help you navigate the steep and rocky trails.
The best time to take the trip is in the morning when the skies are clear, so you can explore the various viewpoints.
Recommended combo-ticket: Table Mountain Cable Car Ticket & Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Combo
2. The District Six Museum
The District Six Museum is a must-visit for anyone who would like to take a history lesson and learn about the country’s struggle in overcoming the apartheid which ended in 1990. This museum was created in 1994 and does a fantastic job of educating visitors about the locals and their history.
In 1966, District Six was declared a white only neighborhood.
During this period, the apartheid was in full swing.
As a result, approximately 60,000 blacks were forced to move to the outskirts of the city.
Recommended tour: Cape Town: Half-Day Guided Township Tour
3. Robben Island
This island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a symbol of hope and triumph after years of oppression.
It’s on this Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years in a tiny cell.
Robben Island is a constant reminder of the country’s horrors of apartheid.
It acted as a military base, a prison, and a mental institution.
Anyone who’s interested in soaking up some history should visit the island’s museum, which offers in more detail the history and culture of the island.
The most intriguing part is that tours around the island are led by former inmates, who give first-hand accounts of exactly what they had to endure.
A boat ride to Robben Island will take you approximately 45 minutes.
Recommended tour: Robben Island Ferry Ticket and Township Combo Tour
4. Old Biscuit Mill
The Old Biscuit Mill, just as the name suggests, was once a biscuit factory in the 19th Century.
Today, the buildings have been converted into a rustic, warm-hearted village that houses some of Cape Town’s most charming architecture.
Here, you’ll find numerous shops, dynamic offices, and food joints.
The restaurants feature a variety of foods from all over the world.
The old, red-brick mill is some sort of creative mall, where artistic people come to show off their talents.
The live performances burst the entire mill into life, especially on the weekends, when visitors from all walks of life flock to shop at the craft shops and designer stores.
This bustling hub is situated approximately 10 minutes from the city center.
This multicultural area was formerly known as Malay Quarter and is well known for its brightly colored houses which are an architectural delight.
This residential area dates back to the 18th Century and is characterized by vibrant one and two-story houses and romantic cobbled streets
In all of South Africa, Bo-Kaap is one of the most colorful and historically unique neighborhoods.
Visiting this brilliantly-colored township will literally add color to your life.
This neighborhood is home to Cape Town’s Muslim community, who started painting their houses in vivid colors as a way of preparing for Eid.
They made sure to agree with their neighbors on what colors to use to avoid clashing.
Bo-Kaap is within walking distance from the city center; 10 minutes to be precise.
6. Clifton Beach
Clifton Beach is a magical jewel and a tourist’s paradise.
Clifton has a series of four beaches that are separated by granite boulders.
These beaches have been recognized internationally for meeting stringent safety and environmental standards.
Visitors come here mainly for fun, sun, sand, surf, and the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach is strategically located in such a way that it’s sheltered from Cape Town’s strong winds.
For the ultimate fun in the sun experience, come down to Clifton and enjoy the perfect sundowner.
This stunning beach is a 20-minute drive from the city center.
Related tour: Cape Peninsula and Penguin Colony Full Day Tour
7. Greenmarket Square
Greenmarket Square is a vibrant market for African crafts.
The vendors come from all parts of Africa, including South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and a select few from West Africa.
Thanks to the immigrants who come to South Africa seeking a better life, you will find crafts that represent their various countries and cultures.
This cobbled public market is one of South Africa’s oldest and originally functioned as a slave market.
Today, the vendors sell a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from hand-crafted trinkets to painted fabrics.
Greenmarket is a great place to find some uniquely different and authentic curios and jewelry to take home.
8. The Winelands
South Africa has a flourishing wine industry which enjoys an impressive reputation.
All this began in the 17th Century.
On your trip to Cape Town, you should definitely plan a trip to the Winelands and test some of South Africa’s best whites and reds paired with olives.
The Winelands are characterized by stunning historical mansions and, of course, the wineries.
This area is made up of famous towns such as Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek.
The one-hour drive escape from the city is all worth it, thanks to the beautiful panoramic views and the excellent wines.
The wine estates, the rolling vineyards, and the towering mountains make you feel like you’re in a totally different world.
Amazing tour: South African Winelands Half Day Tour and Tasting
9. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is located on the Atlantic shore in South Africa’s oldest harbor.
Thanks to its strategic positioning, which offers magnificent views of the ocean and the mountain peaks, about 100,000 people visit the place daily during peak season.
The complex was designed by Adrian van der Vyver and built by Queen Victoria’s second son, Alfred, in 1988.
The V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s top attractions, drawing in more than 23 million tourists annually.
The area is a 123-hectare mixed-use destination and has both residential and commercial real estate.
Here, both local and international visitors have a wide selection of venues to dine, shop and be entertained.
10. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Clearly, not all gardens are created equal.
This Botanical Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains over 7000 species of plants from the southern part of Africa.
The 89-acre garden was started in 1913 by a botanist, Harold Pearson, and is part of the 528-hectare Kirstenbosch Estate.
The garden is a favorite among local and international visitors.
Guests are allowed to picnic on the lawns as they sip on a glass of wine and enjoy the magnificent views from the canopy walkways.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, hike up the Skeleton Gorge for some thrills.
The main reason this garden was created was to preserve the country’s unique flora.
Head to this stunning spot – which is 13km away from “The Mother City” – and learn more about the indigenous species that are conserved here.
Suggested tour: Table Mountain Kirstenbosch to Cable Station Hike
11. Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope extends south from Cape Town and is an area of profound natural beauty.
Its highlight is the Cape Point – a narrow strip of land that juts into the ocean waters.
The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is home to many wild animals, such as antelopes, baboons, and ostriches.
The reserve also has a variety of plants which make up a significant part of Cape’s Floral Kingdom.
Going up the hiking trails allows one to have a sweeping view of the sea, the beautiful beaches, the wildlife, and the vegetation.
Available tour: Cape of Good Hope Private Tour with Table Mountain Ticket
12. Camp’s Bay
Camp’s Bay was originally known as Baai von Kamptz, after Dutch soldier Friedrich von Kamptz.
This affluent suburb is rimmed by breathtaking, boulder-flanked beaches.
The vast stretch of Camp’s Bay soft sand is flanked by bars and cafes, offering an assortment of both local and international cuisines.
Just like Clifton Beach, Camp’s Bay is shielded from strong winds, creating a great atmosphere where families can picnic and enjoy the outdoors.
The Bay is 9km away from Cape Town and would make a great destination for a day trip from the city.
Included in: Cape Peninsula and Penguin Colony Full Day Tour
Paternoster is a quiet oasis that is rumored to be one of South Africa’s oldest fishing villages.
The area has a lobster factory, while the locals catch and sell herring, fish in the deep sea, and draw mussels from the rocks.
For this reason, Paternoster has a high density of seafood restaurants that are rated world-class.
The term Paternoster directly translates to “Our Father” from Latin.
The village’s name came about when the Portuguese fishermen got stranded offshore and supposedly cried out this prayer.
This waterfront fishing village is within easy driving distance of Cape Town.
The 90-minute drive is definitely worth the serenity and the fabulous array of restaurants.
In winter, Hermanus is a hotbed of activity.
Hermanus comes to life between the months of June and October, which is whale season.
If you find yourself in Cape Town around this time of year, you definitely need to make a visit to the whale-watching capital of the world.
Numerous whales converge here to mate and calve.
These gracious creatures of the sea can be spotted from different locations along the waterfront.
The 115 km between the two towns can be covered in approximately two hours by road.
15. Aquila Private Game Reserve
This 4-star game reserve is located two hours away, in the northeast of Cape Town.
The 10,000-hectare reserve is home to the “big five” – namely, rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards, and buffalos.
Here you will also find the Aquila Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre.
The conservancy provides a sanctuary for animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild.